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Technology adoption is still positive in the public sector - in spite of the obstacles

from  August 21, 2023 | 2 min read

Our most recent State of the Digital Nation report paints a picture of a Public Sector still experiencing the aftershocks of 2020 – with digital transformation projects delayed or stagnated and beset by many obstacles. That said, there are some interesting areas where progress is still being made. One of these areas is the adoption of new technologies, which continues at a healthy pace globally – and with an obvious pattern that suggests a key challenge that organizations can approach strategically in order to ensure successful transformation. 

In this article, well explore both the global trends and some of their most important drivers and what they mean for you.

Technology adoption across the public sector continues, with some areas more mature than others. More than a third of organizations are currently adopting new tools – and there are three clear priorities among the types of tools they’re adopting.

Data compatibility is the top priority

52% of organizations surveyed say they are in adoption mode when it comes to data management tools.

Of those who have a digital transformation strategy or who are adopting technologies to improve their back office systems, data management tools are the most likely to have already been fully adopted. The increase in those reporting that data compatibility requires wholesale changes could go some way to explain why data management tools are high on the adoption list – organizations are discovering that data compatibility and interoperability represents a major chokepoint for their overall transformation efforts.

SaaS app integration is a close second

47% of respondents are adopting solutions to improve SaaS app integration. 

In line with what we’ve already learned about data management tools, this suggests that despite their transformation efforts and their adoption of new solutions, organizations are still trying to create work arounds to compensate for the inadequacy of their legacy systems. 

Which makes it no surprise that the 3rd place tool for adoption is

Updating or replacing legacy systems

46% of our respondents are actively trying to improve legacy systems altogether. The main reason cited is, of course, data compatibility. AI and Machine Learning tools come in at 4th place with 44% looking to adopt – which only serves to enforce this perception. (After all, one of the most potent uses of AI tools lies in helping to automate data flows, entry, and translation across systems.)

These three priorities create a clear picture of a sector struggling to manage its data efficiently across a variety of different systems – many of which may no longer even be fit for purpose.


Unit4’s State of the Digital Nation 2023 Survey

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But not everyone has gotten the message yet

While data compatibility continues to be a challenge for some organizations, the adoption of data management tools to improve the processes and drive efficiencies isnt being embraced by all. 

The UK has the highest reported adoption of data management tools. 35% of respondents from this region also report that data compatibility requires wholesale changes, suggesting the process of transformation is straining legacy systems to breaking point. 

Canadian organizations are the least likely to be reporting adoption of data management tools, but are the most likely to report wholesales changes are needed. This suggests this is an area they should be focusing on. Its also worth noting that Canada have lower adoption levels across most of the technologies compared to the other countries. 

While Canada is by far the most likely to be measuring success by the speed of treatment or service access, they are also looking to make cost savings by cutting citizen or community services. If they embraced and adopt more technology, they might be able to make cost savings without having to jeopardize the citizens they serve.

Data compatibility is a leading challenge for central government

While data compatibility continues to be a challenge for central government, the adoption of data management tools to improve the processes and drive efficiencies isnt as high as it could be. 

Approaching half (43%) of central government organizations report that wholesale improvements are needed to the compatibility of their data across applications and departments. While half do report theyve adopted data management tools (either in a major or minor way), that still leaves another 50% who havent done so yet.

Improving back office systems to drive efficiencies through the adoption of technology is different depending on the size of the organization.  Even though the smallest organizations felt that data compatibility was an issue they are focusing less on data management tools and real time reporting. They have instead looked to upgrading or replacing legacy systems and cloud migration as a way to improve process and drive efficiencies in their back office systems. For those dependent on systems that simply can’t keep up with the pace of change or the demands of citizens, this may actually be the smarter course of action. Transformation necessarily depends on a firm foundation – and your back office processes and systems are a necessary part of that foundation.

Want to learn more?

For a full appraisal of everything covered in this article – and to learn more about how your peers across regions and the sector are building a foundation for transformation with Unit4 ERP download our full 2023 public sector State of the Digital Nation Report here.

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